MANCHESTER, NH – John Cataldo has decided not to run again for Ward 8 Alderman.
In a brief Facebook post Monday night, Cataldo said some recent life changes helped him make up his mind. When asked about it, Cataldo said taking a step back from City Hall is the right choice for him.
“If you’d asked me two years ago, I would have told you I had every intention of seeking reelection again. Although I never had any intention of serving for 20 or 25 years, I thought maybe another term or two. It’s funny – just when you think you’re getting older and wiser, you’re not,” Cataldo says. “You’re still learning and you don’t know everything.”
Serving as alderman required a lot of man hours of “homework” to keep up with city business, from contracts and budgets, to building projects and the deeper issues, like homelessness.
But Cataldo said the biggest reason is that he and his wife Gabby are expecting baby No. 3 in May – baby boy Cataldo is due to join the fold, which already includes two big sisters.
“A lot has changed in my life – with the baby we’ll be going from two to three, and I also started a new job. A lot happens in a young family’s life. It’s just one of those things, but for my family I need to take a step back and focus more on home and those important things in life,” he says. “That was the motivating factor.”
Looking back Cataldo says he’s happy about what he was able to accomplish so far – and notes that he still has seven months left to get things done.
“I feel I was able to accomplish a lot with my fellow aldermen in just one term, even just in the ward itself, me and Jimmy Lehoux have started a trend, along with other aldermen, to be more open and transparent by hosting community forums and participate on Facebook with people from the ward. That’s a legacy I’ll be proud of,” Cataldo says.
He also reflected on movement made with city contracts, beginning with the consequences of last year’s budget vote.
“Getting non-affiliated employees their due raises and following in line the other contracts, which modeled what we were able to work out with non-affiliateds, and besides that, there’s a lot of economic things we’ve done as a board I’m proud of,” Cataldo says.
Making changes to the city’s incremental Yarger-Decker pay scale to the benefit of taxpayers and city workers, and concluding the long unresolved issue of contamination at the site of a new downtown hotel are also milestones, says Cataldo.
“We were finally able to come to an agreement that’s going to benefit the city in the long run, and now there are shovels in the ground and that hotel is being built – the list goes on – and there’s still more to do. I’ve still got seven months left, and a lot can happen in a short amount of time.”
If he had any advice for the next person to fill the Ward 8 Alderman’s chair it would be keep an open mind.
“It’s definitely a lot of work. Naïveté is a funny thing, and if you ask any of the freshman aldermen, they’d say the same thing – it’s a lot more work than I expected. Also, the campaigning is very intense and time consuming, and if you want to win you have to put the time in,” Cataldo says.
“But my advice for anybody thinking about running, particularly in Ward 8, is don’t have any preconceived notions about what you think the ward is like. It’s very mixed, there are people of all different views on the spectrum and it’s one of the more engaged wards, and that’s a good thing,” he says. “If you’re running, keep an open mind – and don’t make any pledges. You never know what’s going to come your way once you have all the information in front of you.”
He will miss hearing from constituents and those who come to the meetings to express their passion for the city.
“It’s not an easy decision to make. I do care so much about the community, and seeing Manchester succeed – the city has a lot of momentum right now. There are issues we’re dealing with, but every city is dealing with these issues and we’re doing the best we can. It will be sad to walk away, but I know the city also in good hands,” Cataldo says. “We have a strong board, and it will be interesting to see who decides to come back for another term and what happens in the election.”